Roelstraete, Herman

Lauwe, 20/10/1925 > Kortrijk, 01/04/1985


Roelstraete, Herman

by Jan Dewilde

Herman Roelstraete studied at the Lemmens Institute, where via Jules Van Nuffel he familiarised himself with the work of the Flemish polyphonists, and also at the conservatories of Brussels and Ghent. Subsequently he was a teacher and the director of several music academies.

Roelstraete left behind a varied oeuvre of about 160 opus numbers, representing virtually all genres with the exception of opera. His particular attention was given to choral music, for which he used texts by authors like Albrecht Rodenbach, Paul Van Ostaijen and Anton Van Wilderode. He kept in close touch with plenty of amateur choirs, both accompanying and advising them. In his native region he collected popular songs, several of which he turned into arrangements of his own. Additionally he put much energy into musicological research concerning Flemish composers who had lapsed into oblivion and he also founded and conducted several vocal and instrumental ensembles specialising in the performance of Flemish music.

As a conductor he was strongly committed to the work of Krafft, Peter Benoit and Edgar Tinel. In 1967 the city of Antwerp and the Peter Benoit Foundation awarded him the Peter Benoit Prize for his performance of Benoit's Drama Christi and in 1983 the Belgian music press gave him the 'Snepvangers' prize for his recording of Benoit's Requiem with the Kortrijk Mixed Choir and the choir and orchestra of the Belgian Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1978 Roelstraete founded 'Musica Flandrorum', a cultural organisation which promoted Flemish music through musicological research, a chamber choir and a music publishing company.

© Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek vzw - Jan Dewilde (translation: Jo Sneppe)